Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Twitter ordered to turn over tweets Twitter went to court on behalf of the Harris, according to the story. I guess that's good. I continue to think that the public's stance towards tech corporations disregards the idea that corporations are too big to say no to any request from authority. This request happens to be public, but in the case of an unfounded NSL with a gag order, Twitter would do what they were asked to do in secret, because getting in trouble by violating a gag order is nothing to do with the business they are running and could cost them a lot of money. And there are false-positive NSLs, just like there are false positives in all other aspects of the endless global war. Facebook and Twitter have become de facto heroic, for being the platforms for messages around the Egyptian and other revolutions. The messages got through, so there's nothing concrete to complain about. And the high-tech conduit gets a sort of credit, or is the hub of a sort of fondness, for being the medium that certain messages went out on. Even though Facebook and Twitter do not give a shit and would just as easily carry messages for the near right, the far right, the Flat Earth Society and everyone else. Facebook and Twitter are no different than Yahoo, who cooperated with the Chinese government and helped get dissidents arrested. Eventually, if activists have some reason to think that Twitter would exercise a prior restraint over some messages and not over others - or, take private Twitter messages and leak them in the moment rather than months later - the activists will move their communication to their own inventions. No time like the present. Occupy had an "Occupy Facebook" software development initiative a while ago. That's all fine, but my point is that the compromised situation is going to happen sooner or later, so the various social movements around the world may as well get out of the corporate medium business now, on a preventive basis, for the sake of whatever canaries are in the coal mine when a request comes in to compromise the privacy of certain communications in the moment rather than months later. Added later: "...Information requests will include data pursued in connection with criminal investigations. Twitter says it does not automatically comply with every request and that users are informed of prying into their accounts in cases where it is legal to do so. Cases in which notification is not permitted would include those involving a National Security Letter. Such a request is a demand for information issued by government agencies about which the recipient is forbidden to talk ..." What disincentive does the government have for going wide with their NSLs? The voters are hardly going to politically punish them for it.